ZIMBABWE is busy preparing for a constitutional referendum and make-or-break elections expected next year to end five years of endless squabbling in the wobbly Government of National Unity.
In 2012, parties in the inclusive government bickered over just about every issue, from the constitution-making process, financing of agriculture and diamond revenues to indigenisation and the Chisumbanje ethanol project.
As it carries out an end-of-year introspection of its performance in 2012, the inclusive government needs to ask itself whose interests it is serving — is it individual, partisan or the interests of Zimbabweans as a whole as promised.
In consultation with political analysts, economists and health professionals, among others, the Zimbabwe Independent looked at how ministers fared during the year while operating on shoestring budgets and hostility along party lines.
Below is the assessment of the performances of some of the ministers. While some ministers have been visible for the right or wrong reasons, others were completely invisible like Heneri Dzinotwiyei of Science and Technology, Paurina Mpariwa of Labour and Social Welfare and Giles Mutsekwa of National Housing and Social Amenities.
Eric Matinenga – Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs. Grade B
He is one of the most principled ministers in the inclusive government. His stance against machinations by the principals to hijack the constitution-making process should be commended, although he eventually lost the battle.
He was brave enough to defy his own leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, on a matter of principle, which very few politicians can do. To ensure accountability, Matinenga instituted an audit of how the Constitutional Development Fund (CDF) was used resulting in a number of legislators being arrested. However, Attorney-General Johannes Tomana stopped prosecution after four legislators had been arrested and six more faced arrest. Matinenga has since proposed a CDF bill to regulate the fund.
Theresa Makone/ Kembo Mohadi – Home Affairs. Grade F
Very few people have good words for this ministry. Despite a marginal improvement in the Registrar-General’s Office, the Home Affairs ministry is the citadel of many of the government’s corrupt practices, with the police force ably leading the way. Even President Robert Mugabe has blasted our partisan police force for high levels of corruption, especially traffic officers. Surveys have shown that the Zimbabwe Republic Police is the most corrupt police force in the region. The immigration department offers no respite and every visit there is a test of endurance. The Passport Office is even worse. Very little in the way of reform or even the pretence of such an exercise has been attempted by the co-ministers. Get rid of them both!
Priscilla Misihairabwi – Mushonga – Regional Integration and International Cooperation Grade C-
The ministry’s role remains unclear and critics have questioned its existence. Misihairabwi-Mushonga is known more for her party work than government functions. Her push for the one-stop border initiative has shown that she has the capacity to deliver, but the problem is that she has little on her plate.
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi – Foreign Affairs D
He operates like an intelligence operative, when he is supposed to be articulating the country’s foreign policy. Mumbengegwi has not done enough to address critical international relations issues, among them sprucing up Zimbabwe’s poor image, building bridges with countries and critical institutions hostile to the country. He has only been visible when engaging the European Union to discuss the lifting of sanctions imposed on Mugabe and his cronies.
Obert Mpofu – Mines. Grade C+
He has presided over the resurgence of the mining sector. His efforts on the diamond industry front have not gone unrewarded and have at least given the appearance of a man with an agenda and iron will. Mpofu and his team have worked hard in the face of strong opposition from the international community against the sale of Marange diamonds on humanitarian and conflict grounds. He ensured the mines fulfilled all the requirements to certify diamond exports. Last month Zimbabwe hosted a diamond conference where major players resolved to push for free trading in Marange stones on the international scene.
Mpofu has also opened up gold mining by allowing unlicensed players to organise themselves and get licences as artisanal miners. His department has also mobilised funds to support small-scale players. However, allegations of sleaze have tainted an otherwise decent balancing act. Were it not for these allegations, he would have been one of the top ministers this year.
Walter Mzembi – Tourism and Hospitality. Grade A-
He has managed to rise above identity politics and displayed a national character, not common in Zimbabwe politics. For instance, he fought army generals and his Zanu PF peers, most of whom are his seniors in his Masvingo province, over the invasion of the wildlife-rich Save Conservancy. Tourism is on the rise and the hosting of UNWTO general assembly has epitomised how he has performed, aided by few resources handed to him. Mzembi has also been instrumental in marketing the country as a safe tourism destination. He also hosted the Africa Travel Association annual congress in Victoria Falls earlier this year. Mzembi has led initiatives to broaden Zimbabwe’s tourism product through the introduction of township and village tourism, among others. He is working towards a new Tourism Act and new financial standards for tourism operators. In a merit-based party, he would have been handed a more demanding portfolio.
Saviour Kasukuwere – Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Grade C
Rabble rouser par excellence. This man cannot get anything done without first grabbing everyone else’s attention. He displays a high amount of energy, in contrast to his other Zanu PF counterparts, and gets the job done none the less, even if opinions are divided as to the usefulness of the tasks he undertakes. His major task was to attain at least 51% indigenous shareholding in all sectors of the economy. He has managed in just a short period to create US$1,8 billion for the National Indigenisation Economic Empowerment Fund. Kasukuwere has, however, neglected some key goals like empowering youths to participate in the mainstream economy through enterprise development, enhancing youth participation in governance and national development, and increasing vocational and skills training opportunities.
Tendai Biti – Finance Minister Grade C
If only Biti could feed 13 million people from two fish and five loaves of bread. Unfortunately, he can only do so much on a shoe-string budget. His greatest feat was to minimise government interference in business in an attempt to allow market forces to correct years of economic decline. Considerable economic growth has been registered albeit off a low base. His efforts are hampered by a huge public service bill and an inability to stimulate growth in the economy using an expansionary economic policy due to an inability to influence money supply. This year Biti launched the debt clearance strategy which resulted in the opening up of some lines of credit from some of the development banks but still the World Bank and the IMF have not returned to Zimbabwe. He has successfully introduced reforms in the capital markets, the taxation regime and has followed instructions from the IMF religiously.
Tapiwa Mashakada – Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Grade D
He is always out of the country. Mashakada’s drive for foreign investment has failed but this is not entirely his fault as this can also be attributed to the country’s bad image, government’s policy inconsistencies and controversial laws like the indigenisation policy. He only had two major events this year — the Road Show to South Africa and the Medium-Term-Plan. The Road Show did not yield any meaningful investments while the MTP review showed that it was off-track. His ministry’s programmes at least have the support of the UNDB and the World Bank and as such give him leverage on crafting economic development strategies. He is still to push for Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection bills in parliament and the amendments to the Zimbabwe Investment Authority Act.
Elton Mangoma – Energy and Power Development Grade A-
There has been a significant improvement in power supply under his stewardship. His plan for increasing power generation is credible, although it is not implementable under the current government. There is considerable progress in the installation of pre-paid meters. Zesa debts with regional power companies are being cleared. Refurbishments of power plants are being done. An agreement with the Zambian government over the US$70 million legacy debt was reached leading to the conclusion of plans for the Batoka gorge project which is now going to come on stream. The Zambezi River Authority has already sent out expressions of interest for the Batoka project.
Sithembiso Nyoni – Small and Medium Enterprises Grade E
Despite the well-documented role that the small to medium enterprises have in the growth and employment of a developing country, she has been notably absent from the front line and nowhere near the debate, leaving the likes of Kasukuwere and Biti to dominate the discourse.
Nicholas Goche – Transport and Infrastructure Development Grade D
From the mishaps of trying to ban most second-hand vehicles to more laudable initiatives of rehabilitating the nation’s highways, his performance has been an erratic one. The near collapse of Air Zimbabwe marked the lowest point of his ministerial career. However, the minister should be commended for the re-construction of the Plumtree to Mutare highway which is being done by Group Five of South Africa.
Welshman Ncube – Industry and Commerce Grade C
He gave an ‘OK’ performance but could have done better. The negotiation of the Essar deal was a high point but his internecine fights with Mutambara seemed to have distracted him from focusing on the revival of industry and commerce. However, others think that he messed up on the Zisco Essar deal when assets were sold for billion less than their true value, hence the ongoing squabbles. He has also been continuously whining about dearth of investment in Matabeleland which may be good for scoring political points but if one presides over the responsible ministry, then they ought to have a credible plan. His industrial policy launched in 2012 has been discounted as he is accused of not consulting widely enough.
Nelson Chamisa – Min of Information Communications Technology Grade D His polished exterior coupled with Clintonesque eloquence masks a rather ordinary performance in his four years serving as the youngest minister in government. Sympathisers may argue that the shrinking of his portfolio may have left him with a smaller stage to perform, but the reasoning should be, fewer duties, greater performance. His greatest undoing seems to be a tendency to wildly over-promise and over-rely on his oratory skills to prop up his popularity.
Paurina Mpariwa – Labour and Social Welfare. Grade F
Four years after the country adopted a multiple currency regime, companies are showing signs of stability and growth, but workers still have to make do with low wages which are sometimes way below the poverty datum line. One would expect Mpariwa to be making a lot of noise and yielding results, but not her. Apart from the slave wages, work-related accidents are on the rise with the National Social Security Authority revealing that there had been 16 deaths and close to 5 000 work-related accidents as companies ignore safety procedures.
She has failed to crack-down on Chinese companies cited as major perpetrators of work-related safety crimes. Her only achievement was the enactment of the Older Persons Act.
Lucia Matibenga – Public Service Grade F
For a trade unionist of her calibre, one would have expected her to do more to improve the working conditions of civil servants. Save for capacity building workshops and salary realignments by insignificant margins in the current year, civil servants still earn below a living wage and are struggling to make ends meet. The civil service audit that gobbled a lot of government and donor funds is yet to bear fruit as ghost workers remain on the payroll. Key government jobs in the health sector, such as nursing have remained frozen despite a huge demand for such services.
Joel Gabbuza Gabuza – Public Works
Gabuza has been silent, perhaps because it’s difficult to separate his portfolio from that of the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure as well as that of National Housing.
The ministry’s half year provincial report indicates it has almost completed construction of houses at the Zimbabwe School of Mines in Bulawayo, construction of flats at Chitungwiza Hospital as well as construction of new hostels at Midlands State University. The ministry has also completed construction of a US$1 million mechanical workshop at Kwekwe Polytechnic College and has just commenced construction of a US$1,8 million Masvingo records office. He has failed to maintain government buildings most of which are in an appalling state with lifts and toilets not functioning.
David Coltart – Education, Sports and Culture Grade B+
Education was a troubled ministry prior to the GNU but has greatly improved. Coltart has managed to stay above politics and concentrated on national issues. He remained focused on his duty to bring sanity into the education sector affected by decades of economic decline. There has been an increase in the number of teachers who deserted their posts years ago returning to the profession. However, political polarisation remains a hindering factor in achieving his set objectives. He has pushed for textbook donations to such an extent that the current ratio is 1:1 in all major subjects at both primary and secondary levels across the country. However, lack of interest and poor efforts in sport development are in stark contrast to his good performance in the education portfolio. He has displayed very little oomph in solving many of the abundant challenges bedevilling sport, especially the most popular sport, football. But his efforts on the cricket front are notable.
Joseph Made – Agriculture and Mechanisation Grade Grade F
He has forgotten his job. There is no real agriculture policy and the country will continue begging for food. They have been blaming drought for food shortages but now the rains are here and the farmers are unprepared because the minister slept on duty. The UN has projected that in 2013 about two million Zimbabweans will require food assistance because of the expected shortages due to poor production levels.
Herbert Murerwa -Lands and Rural Resettlement Grade F
His success this year hinged on the ability to carry out a land audit as per GPA requirement. Tackling the contentious multiple farm ownership by top Zanu PF officials would have redeemed his tattered image. Farmers cannot access loans because the land is dead capital due to lack of proper land tenure. Funding is not available and the minister has done nothing to make sure that the resettled farmers can use their land as security in order to get funding. However, Murerwa has not been well for a long time.
Patrick Chinamasa – Justice and Legal Affairs Grade C
He maintains consistency and remains strong when pushing for his agenda, for example, his role in ensuring Copac produced a draft constitution despite internal pressure from his Zanu PF party and being labelled a sell-out. He steered the Human Rights Commission Act and the Electoral Amendment Act, but failed to deliver on the Posa Amendment Bill, which was eventually introduced as a private members bill. He introduced the pre-trial diversion programme, which speeds up child sexual abuse cases. Chinamasa still has to improve on the prison conditions. While there has been some improvement in dealing with case backlogs, the minister can do more by pushing the judiciary to conclude trials timeously. However, the sentiments he aired in his BBC interview that Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai will not be allowed to rule the country by the military even if he wins the next election will always be a dark cloud hanging over him.
Webster Shamu – Media, Information and Publicity Grade D
Shamu has remained deaf to calls to implement media reforms, opening up the airwaves and allowing independent broadcasters to function. While new licences were issued this year to private players, including veteran journalist Barnabas Thondhlana, Shamu has been found wanting in the broadcasting sector with only radio licences being issued to Zimpapers and Supa Mandiwanzira, both of who are linked to Zanu PF. However, Shamu can be commended for allowing private media to cover state functions, which had become a preserve of the state-controlled media. He has also allowed foreign media to cover events in the country. Shamu has organised meetings with editors from both the private and public media.
There were generally fewer arrests of journalists and media practitioners this year but Shamu still must repeal the repressive Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Threats to editors of private media to report more positively on Mugabe have damaged his profile.
Emmerson Mnangagwa – Defence Minister Grade C
There were reports of lawlessness when soldiers disrupted the census exercise demanding to be included in the enumeration exercise. Overall, Mnangagwa seems to have contained the indiscipline which was on the rise in the army due to reported hunger, nepotism and low salaries.
He has since reined-in on army commanders like Major-general Douglas Nyikayaramba, who said he would not accept an MDC-T election victory. Mnangagwa successfully completed the construction of the National Defence College in Harare and it will benefit Zimbabwe and other military and security personnel in the region.
However, Mnangagwa needs to depoliticise the military and turn the ZDF into a non-partisan professional force.
Heneri Dzinotyiwei – Science & Technology minister Grade F
One of the forgotten ministers in the unity government because he seems to be doing nothing. Perhaps he should consider rejoining the academic world.
Olivia Muchena – Women’s Affairs and Gender Development Grade C
She continued to push for the uplifting of the social, economic and political status of Zimbabwean women. Attempts were made to mobilise society against gender-based violence. Some analysts credited her ministry with the clause in the draft constitution outlawing the death penalty for women. However, failure to speak effectively and assist women survivors of political violence counted against her. She was probably handicapped in this by her partisan stance given that the alleged perpetrators of the violence are from Zanu PF. She still needs to deliver on promises for the para-legal training for women as well as translating the reproductive and Family Laws Handbook to assist women to know their rights.
Gorden Moyo State Enterprises and Parastatals Grade E
While visible, he is too often seen explaining why public entities are not performing as expected, or introducing revamped time tables for the restructuring of the parastatals after the previous one had been made redundant through non-performance. He has very little to show for his time in government as public entities have continued to drag down the economy. He has developed on paper a regulatory framework for state enterprises and performance based-contracts for the chief executives. The State Enterprises Corporate Governance code has not yet been implemented.
Sipepa Nkomo – Ministry of Water Resources Development and Management Grade E
Nkomo has shown passion for solving Bulawayo’s perennial water problems and the fact that the Msthabezi Water Project recently started pumping water to Bulawayo is commendable. Although it will not solve Bulawayo’s water woes, it is a step in the right direction.
However, he has had his own fair share of criticism with some accusing him of running the ministry via spirit mediums and cleansing ceremonies and still we cannot store water. He was famous for calling for cleansing ceremonies in Gokwe and Mutare claiming that mermaids were blocking his ministry’s efforts. His ministry has dismally failed in its mandate to ensure the provision of water to the residents.
Ignatius Chombo – Minister of Local Government, Urban and Rural Development Grade D
Most local authorities have continued to struggle to provide basic services such as regular refuse collection, clean water supply, road maintenance, among many others. Chombo has done little to ensure they act in the ratepayers’ interest other than meddling for Zanu PF political gain.
Thanks to the minister though, Harare City Council was forced to stop property attachments in Rugare high density suburb.
Henry Madzorera – Minister of Health and Child Welfare Grade C
This ministry has made remarkable strides in the provision of health facilities in the country. Public health facilities have been improved and most provincial hospitals have been renovated and services have improved. Drug availability within most health institutions has also improved over the year. He still has to work harder to improve treatment of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, heart diseases and cancer, which pose a greater threat to Zimbabweans than HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
Francis Nhema- Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Grade D
The biggest blight on the performance of Nhema was his failure to speak out strongly against the construction of a hotel by Chinese investors at a designated wetland in Belvedere. Several wetlands in Harare have been under threat compromising the underground water sources. He has also not been active in fighting environment degradation caused by mining giants such as the ones in Chiadzwa. The environmental management laws are not being adequately enforced and this can be witnessed by the accumulation of refuse in cities and towns nationwide. He also stands accused of allegedly parcelling out the lucrative Save Conservancy to army generals and top Zanu PF officials.